Saturday, 1 August 2009

1987 Boy George: Everything I Own

It's fair to say that 1986 was not a good year for the former George Alan O'Dowd. With Culture Club messily imploding in a welter of in-fighting and dwindling public interest, George found himself outed as a heroin addict by the tabloids who branded him Public Enemy Number One. 'Everything I Own' was his first solo single, a comeback of sorts in the wake of all the negativity.

Like UB40's take on 'Red Red Wine' before him, 'Everything I Own' is a cover version of a cover version. The original was a hit for soft rockers Bread in 1972, but Ken Boothe reformatted it into a reggae/rocksteady arrangement and took it to number one two years later. I don't know if George ever heard the original, but he'd certainly heard Boothe's take on it, what with his own version being virtually a tracing paper copy.

In truth, George's troubled recent past probably generated no small amount of sympathy with a public who now regarded him as a national institution having a rough ride of things rather than the curiosity of old, and they were probably equally keen to see some colour put back into a top forty that had taken a turn for the bland. Indeed, the lyrics can be taken as a plea for forgiveness to his fans:

"I would give everything I own,
just to have you back again".

Who could resist? But sentimentality aside, while there were often elements of reggae and lover's rock in Culture Club's output, this is strictly autopilot stuff. George's voice was never a weak link in anything he did, but neither was it ever the main selling point either and it adds nothing new to this to differentiate it from either of the other versions.

The end product (and 'product' it is) is a hollow and unrewarding vanity recording that, in playing it safe, condemns it to lack the necessary imagination to give it the legs to break free of it's 'Comeback Single' status. No surprises then that it was quickly forgotten when the comeback fizzled out. As inessential a single as the eighties ever produced.

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